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Valour and Vanity

(Glamourist Histories #4)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,496 ratings  ·  359 reviews
Acclaimed fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal has enchanted many fans with her beloved novels featuring a Regency setting in which magic--known here as glamour--is real. In Valour and Vanity, master glamourists Jane and Vincent find themselves in the sort of a magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen wrote Ocean's Eleven.

After Melody's wedding, the Ellsworths and Vinc
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published April 29th 2014 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,496 ratings  ·  359 reviews

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Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This kind of light fantasy fare is rather hitting the spot. Low effort, high Regency, light magic, and a little bit of woven magic changing perceptions and causing minor effects. It's really quite a bit of easy fun.

Especially when we get involved with con-men in Venice and get thrown into instant poverty and the threat of debtor's prison. Woo, woo! Nice conflict.

What are the Prince's illusionists going to do?

Well, suffice to say, survival is of first importance, but a little bit of happy chance
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
[5 Stars] I'll start this off by saying this book is not for everyone. You basically have to be a huge fan of fantasy of manners and not be bored by descriptions of glamour techniques and also marital problems and development, and you also have to be patient because the things happening in the blurb don't happen until much later in the book. Actually, don't even read the blurb. I personally think it is a huge spoiler. So all of that being said, this book will appeal to a particular sort of perso ...more
Olga Godim
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
Big publishers (like Tor, who published this book) have an annoying custom to let their marketing departments dictate their titles. Sometimes it works, but other times, it doesn’t. It didn’t work for this novel. The title the marketers came up with – Valour and Vanity – is too generic, while the novel is not generic at all. Its distinct writer’s voice, original magical system, and unique protagonists can’t be mistaken or even compared to any other in the fantasy genre.
A fast and enjoyable read,
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2014
"Jane Austen does Ocean's Eleven." Stop. Read no further. That is all you need to know about this book. If you have not read the first three Glamourist Histories books, go read them now just so you can read this book (you don't actually have to, but it makes for a richer experience, as with any series).

In Valour and Vanity, Jane and Vincent, professional glamourists, journey to Vienna to hang out with Lord Byron (LORD BYRON) and continue studying Glamour in Glass (the technique, not the book
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the 4th book in the series and it continues to be a lot of fun. In this book we're following Jane and Vincent on a tour around the continent as they look for new ways to expand their work with Glamour and uncover new secrets to the magic they love so dearly.

We're following Jane and Vincent as they are searching for Glassblowers in Italy to work with them and they hope to create something never before seen out of Glamour and Glassworks. However they receive quite a shock when all the Glas
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
These books seem to be just perfect for my brain at the moment. I read this on the train, more or less in one gulp. You’ve got to love that one of the most important threads of the story is the love between Vincent and Jane, and how it gets them through everything, no matter what. And despite how far their acts of derring-do have come from their Austen-esque beginnings in Shades of Milk and Honey, the development is clear. This time, the trouble they get into grows out of everything before (rath ...more
Full disclosure: Mary is a dear, dear friend of mine, in addition to writing books that are aimed DIRECTLY AT ME as a reader. I would have a very difficult time not enjoying this book.

Every book in this series pleases me more. Not just because this is a romance novel with a heist plot, WHICH IT IS. (She describes it as "if Jane Austen wrote Ocean's Eleven"). It reminds me very much of the TV show Leverage, but with glamour (magic in this world), pirates, Lord Byron, nuns, boat chases, and a stre
Kaethe Douglas
The Glamourist Histories start with an extremely well-done Jane Austen sort of Regency romance with magic as an art form. Then with each subsequent book Kowal makes great leaps in the development of the art, development of the characters within their marriage, the opportunity to take her couple places Austen never went like the Napoleonic wars and the slave trade, while always managing to maintain the Austen tone.

It's kind of astounding even though Novik does essentially the same thing with the
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Exciting installment. Jane and Vincent are off to Italy to hang out with Byron and work with glassmakers to perfect their technique of recording glamour in glass.

But they become the victims of a very elaborate con. Honestly, it was very well done.

After grappling with their victimhood for a bit, the married pair decide to fight back. They gather a group of comrades and co-conspirators and turn their own hands to creating a clever con of their own to turn the tables on their enemies.

Very well done
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book Couples Video

Actually rating 3.5 stars

Jane and Vincent decide that in order to find more about glamour in glass they must travel to Murano but while crossing the sea they are attacked by pirates. Luckily they only loose their papers and belongings but when they arrive in Murano they found out that the attack was much more then they expected.

I must confess the first half and maybe a little of the second part was quite interesting, only the ending bored me a little.

What I really appreciated
Silvia Kay
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, regency
I'm afraid this is it for me as far as the Glamourist Histories series goes.

I cannot believe I'm actually typing these words after clinging to this series for so long despite not actually loving any of the books that followed Shades of Milk and Honey (#1), except maybe Without a Summer (#3) which I rated four stars. This book, however, made me realize that I didn't like the direction this series was taking, namely the whole constant travelling thing. If I wanted to read a fantasy novel about tra
3.75 stars

Jane and Vincent are traveling in Italy with her parents, Melody and Melody's new husband. The time has come to part. While the Ellsworths, Melody and her husband will go on exploring the Continent, Jane and Vincent are headed to Murano to continue their experiments with glamour in glass. Mrs. Ellsworth is terrified their ship will be set upon by pirates. Jane is sympathetic but Vincent knows there's no such thing as pirates in this part of the world. Imagine everyone's surprise when c
Renee Babcock
A pretty decent addition to the series although the ending was just too much of an infodump for me. I never feltI had a chance yon figure things out but rather it was all well you know here's what our plan was all along and oh yeah we figured out these details without letting you the reader in on how we did it.

Also for some reason I found the interactions between Jane and David annoying. She expresses concern, he tells her he's fine, she gets frustrated and we repeat the whole series again, seve
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought both of the Vincents were a little irritating in this one, mostly David with his insistence that he was just fine. It wasn't really much fun until the end. Hope the next one is better.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“But true love will always triumph. Is that not what the novels says?” “Yes, but we are in the land of Romeo and Juliet.” “What a happy thought that is.”

This glamour history eschews the usual Regency England setting for a more exotic locale: Venice after the dissolution of the Republic by Napoleon. Kowal likewise confronts our protagonists with new threats and new antagonists. The story has been compared to Oceans 11, but Kowal’s task was more difficult because she maintains a single point of vi
I feel like I enjoyed this book most out of the series so far. I usually have a bit of a problem with the pacing at the start of these books, but this time that was not the case. The story was compelling from the start, and had a few very nice twists and turns. I felt like I grew closer to the characters in a way, even if they frustrated me at times. I enjoyed seeing their struggles in this book, and seeing how they dealt with it. It was also a very clever book, especially the last part.

I reall
Nancy Meservier
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, audiobook
Valour and Vanity is the fourth book in Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist History series, which I can officially say has really become one of my favorite series. In this book, Jane and Vincent travel to Venice, only to be robbed by pirates on their way. Left destitute, Jane and Vincent must depend on the charity of others to survive an reclaim their status.

One of the things I really like about this series is the strength of its characters. Jane and Vincent are pretty much my favorite couple in f
Probably my favourite as far as the interactions and maturity and struggle in Jane and Vincent's relationship. Due to circumstances outside their control, an unjustice is done to Jane and Vincent that leaves them penniless and struggling to find work in a country they do not call home. In the end it is Jane who finds employment with the church and Vincent who is left at a loss to contribute funds. He falls into a depression as he struggles to reconcile his inability to be a protector, and proper ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The blurb speaks truth. All you need to know to determine whether or not this book is for you is "Jane Austen does Ocean's Eleven." It's every bit as delightful as those five words suggest! I would recommend reading the prior three books in the series first, because they're excellent, and they're full of more instances of AWESOME LADIES BEING AWESOME IN REGENCY PERIOD-APPROPRIATE WAYS.

I adore this series, and I adore Mary Robinette Kowal for giving us a courageous, intelligent, sympathetic, hero
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My review of Valour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal's new fourth book in the Glamourist History series, is now up on the wonderful AustenProse website.

It begins:

I have thoroughly enjoyed the first three books of the Glamourist History series which has only gotten better as it goes on, but when I read the description of the fourth book I wasn’t positive that improving trend would continue, at least for me. Pirates? The Regency version of a heist film? Those may appeal to many but aren’t my pre
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, april, 2014
With each entry in the Glamourist series, Mary Robinette Kowal keeps getting better and better. We the reader can enjoy a large cast of wonderfully drawn characters, a deep look at Regency-era society, military intrigue, the most intricate of daily life details, magic and wonder -- and here, a lovely spin on the caper novel. Not to be missed.
Despite the fact that I generally am not a fan of heist movies (and similar-type books), I think this was my favorite of the series so far.

The combination of a maturing relationship between Vincent and Jane, plus valor in the face of true adversity is what did it for me. Oh, and puppets! :D
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Public service announcement: DO NOT read the blurb before going into this book (see details below). Just read it blind.

My adventures with the Glamourist Histories Series continues - almost done and I am so psyched. This will likely be the first series that I will have completed this year (2020) so yay me!

I should also mention that I was hoping that I could listen to this as an audiobook but that idea was deep-sixed as soon as the female narrator put a deep voice on for our hero. Just ... no....
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
Jane and Vincent have been accompanying Melody and her new husband on their wedding tour of the continent. Leaving the newlyweds with their parents, Jane and Vincent head to Murano. Lord Byron has given the Vincents an open invitation to visit him in Venice, which is a nice cover for what they what to do in Murano. They have long wanted to visit the famed glassmakers there after their discovery about weaving magic into glass to make it portable and not tethered to the earth. The couple hope that ...more
Anne Wise
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed this. It's not often in historical fiction or fantasy that you get a point of view from a married woman. At least in my experience since that is mostly the genres I read. Correct me if I'm wrong here. I wasn't sure what to make of it at first...and it's different, but nice for a change. Instead of worrying about whether or not she will marry Mr. Right or marry at all, she worries about whether or not she will conceive and whether or not she truly wants a child. Interesting perspective. ...more
Stephanie Carr
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance
Oh I love this one!
Pirates (or are they?). So much fun intrigue and mystery.
The nuns are awesome.
The best part is Lord Byron. I love the representation of his character in this. A lot honestly. And his poetry and the way he's always charming the ladies lol!
But yeah definitely love this installment a lot. The struggle of being rich and then having something happen to make you poor and unable to call on family for help and only having an artist knowledge and skill to TRY to find work in a town t
"I do think you are beautiful. Not fashionable, not handsome, not insipidly pretty, but full of beauty. You find the beauty around you and reflect it for me to see. You are yourself, and you are my muse."

Amazing, delightful, divine. This series just keeps getting better. Each book adds a new element, reaches new heights and it is glorious. <3
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the things I love most about this series, after the first book, is that it features the ongoing adventures of a married couple. That’s not something we always see a lot of here in fantasy-land, especially books that are a mix of fantasy and romance. And in romance-land the story often ends once our couple has found their ‘happily ever after’, choosing to leave the reader on a high note and overlooking any future relationship struggles our protagonists may have down the road.

A lot of this
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so impressed with how Kowal constructs such a wide array of stories using the same foundational elements of magic, characters, and world building. Thus far each book in this series is so different and unique, while remaining fun and with the strong core of Jane and Vincent's relationship. With each book they are tested and made stronger. This time Kowal addresses events brought up in the second installment as our famed glamourists continue their research, confront trauma from their past, and ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Feb 15, 2015 10:05AM  
Vaginal Fantasy B...: NPR Best Books of 2014 1 75 Dec 04, 2014 01:00PM  

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Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of the Lady Astronaut series and historical fantasy novels: The Glamourist Histories series and Ghost Talkers . She’s the President of SFWA, a member of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses, and has received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, four Hugo awards, the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel, the Nebula, and Locus awards. Stories have a ...more

Other books in the series

Glamourist Histories (6 books)
  • Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)
  • Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories, #2)
  • Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories, #3)
  • Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories, #5)
  • The Complete Glamourist Histories: (Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, Without a Summer, Valour and Vanity, Of Noble Family)

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